Regardless of whether you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor, you are facing fines and jail time if you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina. But, fines and jail time are not the only possible consequences of a criminal conviction. Getting convicted can lead to other penalties and have various “collateral” consequences as well, and these consequences can negatively impact your life long after you serve your sentence.
Additional Criminal Penalties in South Carolina
In many cases, criminal charges will carry additional penalties beyond fines and jail time. Some of these additional penalties are crime-specific (i.e. installation of an ignition interlock device for DUI), while others apply more generally. Depending on the charge (or charges) you are facing, additional penalties that could be on the table include:
- Restitution – If you committed a crime that resulted in physical or financial harm to the victim, the judge may order you to pay restitution. Your obligation to pay restitution will be in addition to your obligation to pay any fines the court imposes.
- Probation – Depending on the severity of the charge (or charges) against you, you may be eligible for probation. If the judge sentences you to probation, you will need to strictly comply with the terms of your release. If you fail to do so, you can be sent to jail immediately, or the judge can impose other penalties such as extending your probation or placing you on house arrest.
- Community Service – Judges in South Carolina can require criminal defendants to complete community service either as a condition of probation or as an independent sentence. If you don’t complete your community service as required, you can face jail time and other penalties.
- Mandatory Treatment – Individuals convicted of drug and alcohol-related crimes can be sentenced to mandatory substance abuse treatment in South Carolina. Individuals convicted of certain sex offenses can be committed to an intensive treatment program with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
- Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation – If you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), driving without a license, or certain other serious traffic offenses, you can lose your driver’s license. While most convictions will result in a temporary license suspension, it is possible to lose your license permanently in some cases.
- Sex Offender Registration – South Carolina requires individuals who are convicted of sex crimes to join the state’s Sex Offenders Registry. Once your name is on the Sex Offenders Registry, it will remain there permanently unless your conviction is overturned, reversed, or vacated.
- Loss of Constitutional Rights – If you are facing a felony charge, a conviction will result in the loss of your right to vote. Convictions for felonies, domestic violence crimes, and other violent crimes also result in loss of your right to carry a gun.
Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in South Carolina
When you get convicted of a crime in South Carolina, your conviction goes on your criminal record. This record stays with you for life, unless your conviction eventually qualifies for expungement. With a criminal record, you will find that many aspects of your life are much more difficult. You may also no longer qualify for benefits and other opportunities that used to be available to you. For example, some of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in South Carolina include:
- Government Benefit Eligibility – Social Security, Federal Student Aid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other government benefit programs limit eligibility for individuals who have criminal convictions. Depending on the program, a misdemeanor or felony conviction may restrict or defer your eligibility, or a conviction may terminate your eligibility entirely.
- Job Consequences – While federal law prohibits employers from denying job opportunities to individuals based solely on the fact that they have criminal records, employers can consider candidates’ records when deciding if they are the best choice for a particular position. As a result, convictions for DUI, drug crimes, violent crimes, and many other offenses will make it much more difficult for you to find a desirable job. If you are a student, a conviction could lead to suspension or expulsion, and this could impact your future job prospects as well.
- Housing Consequences – Apartment complexes, property managers, and lenders can all consider applicants’ criminal backgrounds when deciding whether to offer a place to live or extend a loan. Even if you qualify for a loan, you may have to pay a much higher interest rate than someone who doesn’t have a criminal record.
- Military Consequences – If you are a member of the Armed Forces in South Carolina, a criminal conviction could have consequences for your military career. In addition to your criminal trial, you could face a military court-martial, and this could have a number of potential negative outcomes.
- Professional Discipline – Doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, real estate agents, and other licensed professionals can also face disciplinary action as the result of a criminal conviction in South Carolina. Each professional licensing board sets its own rules and standards; and, depending on the circumstances presented, a criminal conviction could result in a reprimand, license suspension, or permanent license revocation.
These are not all of the consequences you can face as the result of a criminal conviction in South Carolina. From additional costs (i.e. increased insurance costs in the case of a DUI) to negative impacts on your relationships with family members and friends, a conviction can affect your life in many different ways. To protect yourself, you need to fight your charge (or charges), and you should discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer right away.
Request a Free Consultation with a Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us about your case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Rock Hill, SC criminal defense lawyer, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.